The Commission opened a formal investigation Thursday into whether Microsoft breached EU competition rules by bundling its Teams collaboration product to business suites Office 365 and Microsoft 365.
Microsoft includes Teams, a cloud-based communication and collaboration tool, in its well-entrenched cloud-based productivity suites for business customers Office 365 and Microsoft 365. The Commission is concerned that Microsoft may be abusing and defending its market position in productivity software by restricting competition in the European Economic Area (‘EEA’) for communication and collaboration products.
In particular, the Commission is concerned that Microsoft may grant Teams a distribution advantage by not giving customers the choice on whether or not to include access to that product when they subscribe to their productivity suites and may have limited the interoperability between its productivity suites and competing offerings. These practices may constitute anti-competitive tying or bundling and prevent suppliers of other communication and collaboration tools from competing, says the Commission, to the detriment of customers in the European Economic Area (‘EEA’).
If proven, the behaviour under investigation may breach EU competition rules, which prohibit the abuse of a dominant position (Article 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (‘TFEU’)). The Commission will carry out its in-depth investigation as a matter of priority. The opening of a formal investigation does not prejudge its outcome.
Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy said: “Remote communication and collaboration tools like Teams have become indispensable for many businesses in Europe. We must therefore ensure that the markets for these products remain competitive, and companies are free to choose the products that best meet their needs. This is why we are investigating whether Microsoft’s tying of its productivity suites with Teams may be in breach of EU competition rules.”
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